“A man in a suit. This guy, he walks in all quiet, scanning the room like he’s making sure nobody recognizes him. He takes a seat, still scanning, stone-faced. Dude must be killer at poker. He sits down and waits, and waits, but like, none of the waiters want to talk to this creepo, so he just keeps sitting and waiting. I don’t know, there was just something about him. Not a bad lookin’ guy at all, but…something. I knew it when I first saw him. I told them, ‘this dude’s trouble.’ You could just tell he was there to cause some shit, everybody did. So he sits. He waits. He looks at his phone a couple times. Waiters are practically running past this dude to their tables, not making eye contact, they don’t want him there. Sure as shit ain’t gonna take his drink order.”
A small crowd grew around Enrique as he laid out the details. He’d always been good at regurgitating what he’d seen, and now it happened to somehow be useful to somebody.
“So get this. This guy gets up, his hands are in his pockets now so you know we’re all like ‘oh fuck this guy’. Like something’s about to go down. He gets up and heads to the door and we’re all relieved because, dude, get the hell out, you know? But yo, this dude doubles back and re-enters the bar. He scans the room again and sits back down in the same damn seat he just left. Now we’re all sure this guy is gonna go nuts on us. It’s been a couple’a minutes now, and we’re all in the kitchen peeking out like “man, fuck my table.” Again, I don’t know what it was about this guy, but something was really off.
Scribbles in a notepad. Some quizzical glances, raised eye-brows to say “really?” as not to cut Enrique off – not that his rapid-fire words could be pierced. The animated Enrique motioned his hands every-which-way, his gestures filling in the small gaps he didn’t state. Even if his story was embellished, he was a damn good speaker. He could certainly hold an audience at least. His small crowd had grown to about two dozen entranced in his story. None more than Enrique. He was so far back in the memory, it was all he could see. Dim lights and red window panes behind him projected the image of a shaman. With his hands everywhere, his voice bouncing off walls, Enrique had put everybody in his trance – including himself. There, so deep in memory, Enrique continued.
“So by this point we’re all stuck in the kitchen. We’re not going anywhere near this guy. He’s still looking all over the place and we’re just wondering like “where’d he put the bomb?”
Only one in the crowd had some grasp over the situation: the scribbler, and he gave Enrique a hard stare as he finished his thought.
“Well we didn’t all think it, probably. But yo, most of us. I kept saying this dude was up to no good, like I’m tellin’ you, and everybody agreed. That’s how we all ended up in the kitchen. You could make that $8 tip or you could stay alive. All it took was one look, you know? This dude had some serious shit going on.”
26 people stood to hear Enrique. He was still flaring up, flickering his story into the crowd, providing them warmth. All light seemed to surround Enrique, the red panes seemed deeper. To the crowd, Enrique was preaching a story whose conclusion they couldn’t bear to wait for any longer. The scribbler kept writing, his own flurry of hand motions matching Enrique’s rising glow; a story in the blue kept alive by the orange that kept building around him.
“My dude I could go on all night about how sketch this guy looked. So we’re watching him, he’s looking around, and he stands up again. Stands straight up. He ain’t moving or nothing like that, but he’s straight up and he’s about to unleash. This dude’s about to fuck shit up. I told everybody, ya know? I took off my apron cause I wasn’t about to die in work clothes. So I took that shit off and a couple others did too. Yo, this dude.”
Enrique shook his head in bewilderment of his own retelling. He couldn’t even believe it. Murmurs spread across the crowd. Because Enrique was amazing at recounting details of time but not appearance, he left the door wide-open for interpretation. The whispers filling the crowd grew and dissipated with each new word from his mouth. A man, a monster. Just enough words to strangle rational thought. Enough whispers to turn Enrique’s words into roars. Silent, the scribbler fit words and bits of sentences onto note paper. His glances were few. He was much less engaged than the crowd covering their mouths, shifting their weight, anticipating, whispering, waiting, listening, hearing. He was patient. Like the night waiting for the sun’s eventual collapse into darkness.
“So at this point, we’re all in the back kind of waiting for some crazy shit to go down. This dude’s standing up and staring everybody down like he’s got issues with everybody in the place. Maybe he did, I don’t know. But yo, out of NOWHERE, Greg comes crashing through us, out the doors, and tackles that dude.”
The crowd of 33 stood motionless. Enrique’s words fell on them with such weight as to exhaust their thoughts and hushed interpretations. The scribbler looked to the crowd and issued the slightest grin, an acknowledgement of his own forecast over the situation.
“I…I dunno, man. It got real, fast. Greg and this dude busted through the table and were on the floor, Greg’s going in on him like he was waving a gun or something. Dude didn’t stand a chance. The rest of us are watching and get out there to pull Greg off. Malania called the cops, or somebody did. They came quick as hell.”
At this, the crowd started to disperse. From 33 to 24. From 24 to 17. As quickly as it began, Enrique’s glow was fading. The panes behind him returned to their normal shade of cardinal red. His hand motions stopped, arms frozen at his sides. The scribbler slowed his scrawl, clicked his pen, and jabbed it back into his pocket. His eyes met Enrique’s once more, and he offered a straight-faced glance that seemed to know Enrique’s story had ended long before Enrique.
“That’s it?” He asked.
“Yeah, that’s it.” Enrique looked around him, falling quiet, thinking of ways to reignite his story. He shivered for the first time of his retelling, his first opportunity to catch breath. The scribbler nodded, clapped his notepad closed, and walked away. Enrique stood for a moment in front of the pane window, confused, before picking his apron from a pile and walking out the front door.